HEALTHY COMMUNITY INITIATIVE (HCI) FUNDS
This has turned into a hot potato kind of issue. On the surface,
this should be a great thing for the community. With each
Councillor having a budget of $50,000 per year to provide
economic assistance to small groups and organizations wishing to
initiate events or activities that will increase the quality of
life and character of the community, it is wonderful.
love to be able to support 50 or more initiatives each year. It
would allow me to get more involved with the grassroots elements
of my Ward and plant the seeds for so much good.
Some critics are being very vocal about the need to abolosh the
funds because it has become "slush money" used by Councillors to
raise their profile in the community and get re-elected.
The expenses that are made under the Healthy Community
Initiatives Fund for the past four years can be found at the
following link, so everything is transparent. Sure, there are
people who would have spent the money differently, but that is
no reason to accuse Councillors of doing anything inappropraite
with the money. No one has been found to be doing anything wrong
that I know of. And so what if other Cities do not have this
policy. Just because all of your friends are jumping off a
bridge, does that mean you have to as well? I have not heard one
solid argument that would justify the claim that the HCI Fund is
anything but positive for the Ward if the Councillor truly gets
to know his Ward and gets involved with what is going on.
Some candidates are publically stating that they want to see the
fund abolished and are stating that they will vote to rescind
the policy. Others are saying that they want the funds to be
taken out of the hands of Councillors and administered by City
Staff. Others are saying that the funds should be distributed by
the Community Action Networks in conjunction with City Staff.
Others are calling this a "slush fund" used only to help
Councillors get re-elected.
I do not think it is a responsible position for any candidate to
claim that they are in favour of outright abolishing to the HCI
Fund. This is something that has to be discussed and debated
upon rationally and objectively following the election while
exploring both the pros and cons of the program. And if the main
argument is that Councillors cannot be trusted to spend the
money fairly and transparently, then what is that saying about
the quality of Councillor who has been elected?
The HCI Fund can really help Ward 5 and I intend to use it
effectively. I am not going to stand up and tell everyone that I
cannot be fair, transparent and honest with this money. This is
$50,000 per year that can be used directly to help local groups
and organizations. I think the most responsible position is to
state that it is something that will be examined carefully by
the next City Council before a decision is made.
I definitely will not ever say that I want the responsibility
for distributing the Healthy Community Initiatives Funds to be
given to anyone else. If the HCI Fund remains, then I, as the
elected representative of Ward 5 should be the one who meets
with the groups and organizations in my Ward to provide small
grants to help kick-start "new initiatives" or to help a group
cover the start-up costs for something that is going to benefit
I will certainly meet with the VECAN to listen to their ideas
and suggestions and most definitely will help with new
initiatives that they put forward or that come from the citizens
living in the community. But I will not simply turn the
responsibility for distribution to the CAN since they will soon
be caught in the same spiderweb that current Councillors are in.
They are volunteers and if they decide to put money towards a
project you can be sure they will face criticism from others who
do not receive the money. To turn the responsibility over to the
CAN and/or City Staff is "irresponsible" and any candidate who
takes that position should be questioned as to why he feels he
will not be able to be honest and fair with the distribution of
a mere $50,000 a year? If he is going to have trouble justifying
the spending of $50,000 a year in the best interestes the Ward
5, then how can he be trusted to make good decisions about the
full budget of $500 million?
I hope the HCIF remains available. As I said, if I wanted to
give out $1000 to 50 different projects, it would mean that I
would be supporting one new initiative each week. Imagine what
I could do for my Ward with this kind of support.
Bottom line is that I have confidence that I will be able to
spend the $50,000 on Healthy Community Initiatives that will
truly benefit Ward 5. I have the confidence that I am familiar
with my community and will have no trouble finding out where
these funds can be put to the best use and how to distribute
them fairly and with transparency. I do not need to be told by
City Staff where I should be spending the funds. I know my Ward
much better than the City Staff.
ALTERNATIVE: USE MONEY TO UPGRADE ALL PLAYGROUNDS
If it ends up being decided to scrap the
fund, then I will be proposing that City Council devote the
entire amount of the Healthy Community Initiative Funds towards
a full scale $6 million upgrade of all of the neighbourhood
playgrounds located throughout the City of Greater Sudbury. By
using the $600,000 per year that has already been established as
part of the budget, the City would be able to borrow the funds
needed to complete all of the improvements by the end of 2016
and pay off the entire loan within the next ten years.
No additional tax money would be required to complete
this initiative and if the City continues to devote the normal
amount of annual capital allocation there should be plenty of
money available to completely renew all of our playgrounds and
ensure that they meet the regulations of the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
According to the Greater Sudbury Parks, Open
Space and Leisure Master Plan which was presented to Council in
June 2014, many of the City’s playgrounds contain outdated and
outmoded play equipment, surface treatments, and pathways. The
review leading up to the final report demonstrated that 79% of
the people surveyed expressed considerable interest in improving
and/or expanding the level of service at playgrounds.
With a total of 179 playgrounds located
throughout the City of Greater Sudbury this amount of funding
would allow the City to create a comprehensive, city-wide
strategy that would allow us to ensure that fully equipped
accessible playgrounds are located within an 800 meter radius of
every urban residential neighbourhood without crossing a major
arterial road or physical barrier, which is the ultimate goal of
the Master Plan.
I feel that this would be a good use for the
Healthy Community Initiative Fund since it would rejuvenate the
neighbourhood playground associations and would provide young
children the kind of play and physical education facilities that
would be in the best interests of the entire family. This would
enable us to demonstrate to all newcomers and people wishing to
locate in the Greater Sudbury Area that we truly are
family-focussed and community minded.
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